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10 Step Home Buying Guide
The process for buying a new home can be exciting and stressful. Having a real estate professional that takes the time to understand your unique needs and lifestyle will help eliminate the stress so you can focus on getting the best home for your money. Here are the 10 basic steps for buying a home.
Step 1: Knowing Your Finances
Most people have a fairly good idea of what is on their credit history. Your financial history is what a lender will use to determine which products and interest rates are available to you. It can even determine your access to a loan. Avoid an unpleasant surprise and order your credit report now. It is not uncommon to find mistakes and inaccuracies that will need to be corrected before qualifying for a home loan.
Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with the Mortgage Process
This is a good time to educate yourself on the home loan process as, even if this is not your first purchase, new regulations and products may be available. Finding the right loan officer and loan product is a crucial element to your home buying success. It is a good idea to set aside enough of your time to schedule interviews with several lenders.
Step 3: Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
How much house can you afford? Now that you have a relationship with a lender, you will be issued a “Pre-approval” letter. This letter lets you know the price range of homes you can afford but more importantly, allows the seller to know that your offer is legitimate. Having been pre-approved for a specified amount validates your offer in a way that puts you ahead of other offers made by parties without pre-approval.
Step 4: Determine Your Wants and Needs
Once you know how much you are pre-approved to spend, shopping for a home becomes much easier. Make a list of your requirements like location, size and neighborhoods and then work with your agent to familiarize yourself with the local markets and the likely matches will become clear.
Step 5: Working with Real Estate Agents
Your Real Estate agent may or may not be the agent representing the seller. It is vitally important to the negotiations that you understand each agent’s duties and their loyalties to their client.
Step 6: Begin Searching for Your New Home
Your agent has access to new homes that enter the market and when a home meets your needs, they will share this information with you. This should not deter you from searching online, asking friends, searching real estate magazines or simply driving around to preview neighborhoods.
Step 7: Make an Offer
Once a home with the right attributes is found, your agent can help you to assemble an offer. Here is where your agent’s knowledge of the market and skills for the coming negotiations becomes indispensable. Make an offer too low and it won’t be considered serious, too high and you’ll leave no room for negotiation. Trust your agent to submit your offer.
Step 8: Home Inspections and Other Tests
Though sellers are required to divulge all known issues with the home that you are purchasing, it should not be assumed that there aren’t additional problems that you will be stuck with if not corrected before the sale closes. Your agent will help you determine which home tests and inspections you should require of the sellers before closing and in what timeframe you should expect these vital tests to be performed. A home is no small purchase. If something doesn’t sit right with you, talk to your agent about it.
Step 9: The Final Stretch
As a transaction progresses, staying in control of your credit and finances is a good idea. Don’t make any large purchases until you are completely done with the purchase of your new home. Keep in touch with your agent and lender, watch your email, return all phone calls and complete all paperwork promptly. Communication with your agent at least once a week is key. A Final Walkthrough of the home with your Agent is also important. Little things that could stall your transaction can usually be corrected fairly quickly if they are caught early.
Step 10: Welcome Home
Congratulations the home-buying process is now complete and home ownership begins. It’s now your responsibility, and in your best interest, to protect your investment for years to come. Routine maintenance is always better than having to fix big problems later. Be sure to watch for signs of leaks, damage, and wear. Your relationship with your agent doesn’t have to end here! After closing, your agent can still help you with by recommending contractors for repairs, helping you to know your home’s market value or providing information about how your home purchase will affect your taxes.